The main difference between being able to make unhappy customers happy, and happy customers even happier, is the point of initiation. At least with unhappy customers, even if you do not know why they were unhappy before contacting them (or having them contact you), you can rest assured that you will get the chance to learn very quickly writes Bill Pollock, President of Strategies for GrowthSM
Ironically, however, it may actually be a bit more difficult to make a happy customer even happier than it is to make an unhappy customer happy in the first place – and you certainly would not want to accidentally do something wrong that might make them unhappy instead.
It’s all a matter of listening, understanding, responding effectively and working under the auspices of an intuitive set of guidelines that should largely come as second nature to the vast majority of the organisation’s customer contact personnel (including yourself).
What we have seen from our research is that the best approach for making happy customers even happier is to focus on the following guidelines:
- Make sure that you and your customer services team understand how the customer uses its systems and equipment as part of their ongoing business operations – make suggestions occasionally on how they can improve efficiency, save some money, go green or reduce waste, etc.
- Take steps to better understand the difference between the customer’s wants and needs – provide them with targeted information and advice that they can use to concentrate more on what they “need”, rather than on what they think they “want”.
- Understand the customer's plans for future expansion, downsizing or consolidation – make the appropriate recommendations for updating and/or modifying their existing service level agreements, or upgrading to newer or different models and technology.
- Keep track of the things you have done in the past to make them happy – do more of the same, and learn what other things or actions would also make them happy.
- Customers love to feel they are getting something for nothing – any documentation or materials that you believe may help your customers to utilise their systems and equipment more efficiently, or provide them with additional product or service information, will generally be gladly accepted.
- Customers also love to hear what other users like themselves are doing with their equipment – so, without divulging any customer-proprietary information, occasionally provide your customers with examples of what some other companies are doing, again, to improve efficiency, save some money, or reduce waste, etc.
- Provide your customers with new product or service information before it is otherwise widely distributed or disseminated – customers always enjoy receiving information before it is distributed to the general public.
- Share your organisation’s thought leadership collateral with your customers – most customers especially like to be made aware of White Papers or Case Studies that help them to understand the enhanced value propositions of the equipment and services they are using, or how their peers have benefited in ways they may not have anticipated through the use of your products and services.
- Provide a more "personal" side of your communications with your customers in order to establish a closer, and less formal relationship – but, be careful not to get too "personal"; just close enough so they feel they can depend on you to act as their surrogate within the company whenever a problem becomes larger than what both you and they, can handle by yourselves.
- Strive toward making your relationship with your customers a true "partnership", rather than just merely a “vendor-customer" relationship – this is the true essence of Customer Relationship Management, or CRM.
Of course, all of these guidelines are merely just words written in a magazine article; the true test can only be exercised by you and your customer and technical support teams on behalf of the customer.
In any case, you should always feel comfortable in relying on your own instincts in order to initially assess the situation, determine the appropriate course of action, and override any of these (or any other) guidelines on the basis of your accumulated expertise and experience.
If you are truly going to succeed in establishing – and maintaining – a strong relationship with your customers, then you must first have both the capability and the confidence to use your own judgment in taking the specific actions that will make your happy customers even happier.